Saturday, May 2, 2009

Question #2 Why does new technology make them squirm...

Poor things...I've noticed that teachers tend to get that glazed-over look when the Tech Guys start to talk about technology in the classroom. In faculty meetings, I can see some are praying for the pain to stop while an excited tech nerd is describing the latest and greatest tech tool we now have available to us. For a myriad of reasons, many of us tend to shy away from including technology tools in our daily routines and when the truly technologically advanced people begin to speak, we try to just go to our happy places on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean. Just like an iguana, if we close our eyes we believe that the person in front of us will no longer exist.

Problem is, we are raising kids in a technology driven world. Who hasn't heard the joke about not understanding something on your computer and asking a 4 year old to help figure it out...its not a joke...its probably true. And I am certain we can all agree that we as teachers are now preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist.

So how do we get teachers to accept...no...embrace technology as a tool that will advance our educational practices rather than allow children to circumvent learning the basics. I recently sat in a short professional development session where a fellow teacher was asked to show us what she had been doing with her freshman history classes in the blogging world. My eyes were wider than the first time I saw a shiny red 1968 Mustang convertible. There must be a way to harness this type of excitement and pass it on.

My Theory: Use the latest buzz in education..the PLC, PLN, CFG...whatever you want to call it (does it really matter?). Get together a group of True Tech Nerds (TTN) and Tech Nerd Wannabes (TNW), give them some snack, step back, and see what happens.

So far so good. Our first gathering of the MVRHS Tech Squad went off without a hitch. The snack was good, the technology worked and most importantly, people showed up. Without much idea of what was to happen, there were a few TTNs and quite a few TNWs came in looking rather hopeful. The first participants were hand selected in hopes that their enthusiasm would be helpful in getting the ball rolling...and I was not disappointed.

We all learned about a great global learning project called iEarn, which has been around for 20 years. Little did we know that one of our own had been instrumental in making this phenomenal project so great and he is actually been asked to travel to Morocco to promote it. Whoa! Imagine what you find out when you talk to your colleagues!

I was able to show a simple tool we already have at our fingertips on EdLine. By using the "discussion" option, we can have protected class blogs about any topic under the sun. There were some wide eyes a-poppin' when using my non-caffeine driven hyperactivity I started pulling up Twitter, Delicious, TinyURL and other web tools in combination with the blogs my classes had been doing. We could check on trending topics, reserch them on the internet quickly, bookmark the trusted sites and then post those crazy long urls in a useable format. Whoa!

Now I've thrown the ball up in the air and am waiting to see who will catch it and run. The trick to this seems to lie in the sustainability factor. Can we keep the enthusiasm going? I am going to schedule these gatherings every few weeks to see how people are doing and to see what other exciting things are happening.

I'm looking for some feedback here. What's the next step? What am I missing? What haven't I thought of? I would love to hear some thoughts from the global classroom.